Three weeks ago, responding to a classified ad in the Washington Post I visited a nice retired gentlemen who was selling his vintage Wild Turkey decanters. His collection consisted of about 30 or so decanters from the 1970's through the 1980's. It was a very nice collection but unfortunately most of the decanters were empty. Not because he enjoyed that wonderful bourbon over the years but because he didn't. You see, those older decanters contained cork stoppers and they were notorious for evaporation of the whiskey. Of the decanters he initially showed me, only one contained whiskey. Upon further discussion, the nice gentlemen indicated he had a couple more decanters in his storage. These decanters, having been stored in their original boxes for at least 20 years were in perfect condition and all contained bourbon. I brought home 5 decanters that contains some of the best bourbon ever produced; Wild Turkey 8 year 101.
Last weekend I hooked up with a couple of friends and instead of hunting in Washington D.C., we trekked a little further north to Baltimore. We hit approximately 15 or 20 stores and only scored in about 5 of them (typical). In those 5 stores we were able to secure about 35 bottles of various bourbon and rye whiskey. The bottles originated from various distilleries that are no longer in operation and represent some outstanding whiskey.
One of my personal favorites, and one I've mentioned here on this blog, is Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond (BIB). We only found three 500ml bottles of the BIB which was disappointing but to make up for that, we found 2 bottles of Old Fitzgerald Prime 80 proof from 1983 and the more rare Old Fitzgerald 90 proof from 1981. In my years of hunting I've found plenty of Old Grand Dad in the 80 or 86 proof versions but never the Bottled in Bond. Now I know why, they were all in Maryland. I found 2 "handles" which are the larger 1.75L bottles that dated from 1986 and 1987 respectively. In 1987 Jim Beam purchased the Old Grand Dad label but prior to that, it was distilled by National Distillers who did a darn fine job with that whiskey. Too bad, in my opinion, quality suffered under Jim Beam in subsequent years. Brown Foreman has been in the same family for decades and they produce Old Forester. I can say that the Old Forester of today is nothing like the bourbon of yesteryear. I found a 1981 Old Forester Bottled in Bond which to me rivals the Old Fitzgerald of the same timeframe in quality and taste. The last two labels found were new to me; Colonel Lee Bottled in Bond and Pikesville Supreme Rye Whiskey. The Pikesville is a straight rye whiskey and these particular bottles were from 1991. I opened one of the bottles when returning home and it's an excellent whiskey even though only 80 proof. The Colonel Lee is from Barton Distillery which was purchased by Buffalo Trace a year or so ago. We tried the Col. Lee also and found it to be quite viscous and very flavorful. I'm just sorry I found only one bottle.
For those of you who dusty hunt, there's still some great stuff out there just waiting to be found. The bourbons listed above represent some of the best.